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Institute of Licensing launches Guidance on determining suitability of Taxi and Private Hire applica

The Institute of Licensing has this week launched guidance to assist local authorities making decisions about the suitability of applicants and licensees in connection with taxi and private hire driver, vehicle and operator licences. The document was officially launched at the IoL’s Taxi Conference by Institute of Licensing President James Button and Stephen Turner, Chair of the working party responsible for drafting the Guidance. The Taxi Conference took place in Swindon with an audience of over 100 licensing practitioners hearing from a range of expert speakers. The document entitled ‘Guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licensees in the hackney and private hire trades’ (click to download the document) considers how regard should be had to the antecedent history of the applicant or licence holder and its relevance to their ‘fitness and propriety’ or ‘suitability’ – this would include previous convictions but may also include other information coming to light for the licensing authority to consider.

This Guidance cannot have the force of legislation, new or amended; the need for which is both abundantly clear to, and fully supported by the Institute and the other organisations working with it. The Guidance can be used by local authorities as a basis for their own local policies and if widely adopted will achieve greater consistency so that applicants are less able to shop between authorities. It is acknowledged that consistency cannot be fully achieved without the imposition of national minimum standards. Cases such as the exploitation uncovered in Rotherham and subsequently other areas, together with other individual cases have highlighted the importance of vetting and assessing potential licence holders and the potentially catastrophic consequences of inadequate vetting. A level of consistency across the country would do much to ensure safety of passengers including children and vulnerable adults. The Institute of Licensing are delighted to present this Guidance which has been produced in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA), National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (NALEO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG). IoL Chairman, Daniel Davies said: “This is an important step forward for taxi licensing standards. This Guidance has been produced by the IoL in partnership with the LGA, LLG and NALEO and provides an opportunity for local authorities to raise standards and consistency in the licensing of taxi and private hire drivers, vehicles and operators. This is fundamentally needed in the absence of new law, to provide a better standards for safeguarding passengers, including children and vulnerable adults. “The majority of applicants and licensees are professional, hard working people and this guidance will assist local authorities in setting the bar for entry to the trade to ensure that that professionalism is protected and preserved. I commend the Guidance to local authorities and hope that it will prove invaluable in their role as licensing authorities charged with the sometimes difficult task of vetting applicants and licensees in the hackney and private hire trades.”

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